On Thurs 7 Aug 08 @9PM I had a deeply moving and spiritual experience when I lit candles and deeyas for Tibet. This was in unison with everyone in my time zone and done globally. I'd like to explore this and share my experiences with you and hear yours as we participate in universal collective prayer events together. I hope to work together with all the universe's beings as we move toward the ideal of Universal Collective Prayer.

Come join me in Universal Collective Prayer!

May God Bless Us All!

UCP-Universal Collective Prayer is produced by Meady's Musings Production . Copyright 2006-2011

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eid Mubarak!

I don't know much bout Islam and so don't want to even try to write about it less I put my foot in my mouth...! But tomorrow is the national holiday in Trinidad and Tobago for Eid-Ul-Fitr that marks the end of the month of fasting for Muslims called Ramadan. The most I know about the celebrations myself from outside of the religion is that sawine (a dish made with vermicelli, ghee and milk) is served and usually muslims do give sawine to other non-muslim neighbours etc. Also many non-muslims take part in the festival in a non-religious way by preparing sawine in their homes themselves.

Based on my lack of knowledge about the religion and that I've not been able to contact a guest blogger to talk bout the topic in time...but next year for sure! I have decided to post two videos from Youtube below. One is about the five pillars of Islam which I think is a good general outline of the religion for those who don't know much about it. (me included but I know as much that the five pillars is a big basic part) The other is a vid about Sufism or Sufi Islam which is as far as I know not practiced much in Trinidad and Tobago but was made famous globally through the poetry of Rumi. And I do know a little bit about Sufism as I had researched it once for some writing I was doing and I was always intrigued by the whirling dances and just pure fun I had heard was practiced in it. So I can't help but include this quote from the book: Rumi The Persian, The Sufi by A. Reza Arasteh-Dept. of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, George Washington University, Washington D.C. First published in Iran 1965, And in Great Britain in 1974 by Routledge & Keagan Paul Ltd., London.

Here is the quote:- Chpt. II-Rebirth in Love and Creativity:An Analysis of Rumi, Pg.49

'According to his son, Sultan Walad, Rumi expressed himself in whirling dances for days and nights; he gave away what he possessed, mostly to the musicians, but he still appeared restless. The onlookers were surprised that such a Mufti of Islam should dance like a mad man!(as said by his son Sultan Walad)'

Also what I will say under the banner of UniversalCollectivePrayer which is the title and purpose of this blog is that for sure in Trinidad and Tobago, Muslims and Hindus get along much better than our ancestors would have historically and much better than in some parts of India currently for sure! And perhaps it is the beauty of diaspora, where, away from their homelands, people are forced to adapt and start to learn to be more tolerant of differences and over time this tolerance becomes acceptance... Or as is famously said in Trinidad- 'The Brotherhood of the Boat-Jahaji Bhai'

Happy Eid Holiday to all and hope you find the vids both entertaining and informative.

YouTube - Buddhist Prayer for Animal Liberation

YouTube - Buddhist Prayer for Animal Liberation

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Surrender onto the Divine Mother!

Photos by Meady's Musings Copyright 2006 and by permission of Ranjiv (for statue pic)

Have you ever felt at times in your life where you feel compelled to simply fall to your knees and pray or just bow or simply surrender onto 'the Universe' not necessarily as in saying 'Thy Will Be Done'(although that too) but as simply a thankfulness to it or a surrender onto it's marvel,warmth,love,compassion and beauty?!

About five years ago I used to think of the universe in a motherly way and imagine the form of 'Mother Durga' but in a welcoming way as if she, the universal mother, would allow me to sit on her lap when I had troubles and comfort me. Seriously I used to have this vision often when I knew not what to do. But this was more like a visualization of me sitting there with her crying all my woes to her.

However last year this took a different turn or 'Bend in the River' for me. I guess it is when I realized to finally let go of it all and say 'Thy Will Be Done' and since then especially when it had now happened I almost felt as if I was being compelled to get on my knees or to bow in surrender to some higher will, way or force. When it first happened I was actually attending a workshop at a Jesuit university and although most people in the workshop were gawking at the huge Virgin Mary statue that I used as a landmark to get to my classroom I kept to myself how much it inspired me with awe. How much I felt I could go sit on her lap or more so based on how I was feeling at that stage, just to bow to her or be with her. But I just said nothing cause from the remarks made I knew it just would not be understood and the people who remarked had their own path to discover and were exposed to very different things in their lives thus far from what I knew of them which I guess caused them to react very differently from myself.

This was last year-2007. Then early this year-2008 I had this feeling to bow to a presence felt at the center of my gateway one evening earlier this year in which was the last Nav Ratri (a nine night festival dedicated to the Mother form in Hinduism) celebrations here in Trinidad and other parts of the Hindu world. Last night I had this dream that I kept thinking bout all day and in finale analysis of it feel what I dreamt of was a strong mother presence fleetingly visiting my home and leaving again! When I woke up in the morning I didn't realize it was the start of Nav Ratri ...a fact I only considered later in the day and confirmed with my mother.

Do you ever feel such a strong force to the point where you just want to surrender onto the Lord or the Universe or the Divine Mother or Father? A force so strong that you want to literally drop to your knees and pray or bow?

For those that do not know what Nav Ratri is they can check it up by doing a web search lots of info out there. However in Trinidad it is celebrated two times for the year. Once earlier in the year which coincides with Spring in India and once later in the year that coincides with the start of Autumn in India and just before Divali or Diwali celebrations. In Trinidad both Nav Ratris are celebrated in the same manner three of the days are dedicated to the Durga form of Shakti, three to Lakshmi and three to Saraswati.

My picture that I put together to illustrate this festival I have decided to call Shakti Melange and consists of snaps of the props from my 'Me Eat Manicou?' theatre production which I did in 2006. These particular snaps are from the shortened adapted version of the production I did for Petrotrin's Trinmar Operations Divali Show in 2006 which I titled 'Manick Escapes to Petrotrin'. The images of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are from the Petrotrin show. The image of the dancer is is Devani Ramnath of Clico Shiv Shakti Dancers who is portraying the character Maa Chinee or Mother Sugar (a character I created to represent the Shakti form or Universal Mother looking over the people of this imaginary village that was once a sugar plantation)from my Me Eat Manicou? show. Me Eat Manicou? was performed at Rudranath Capideo Learning Resource Centre, Mc Bean Village, Couva, Trinidad in 2006. And you can learn more about that production on my website http://www.meadysmusings.com The bottom pic is of a statue of the rakshas (demon) king-Mahishasura and is at Chamundi Hill, Mysore, India and was taken by my cousin on a trip to India in early 2008. In some parts of India the current Nav Ratri being celebrated is a celebration of the Universal Mother or Shakti destroying Mahishasura so she is then in that form called MahishasuraMardini meaning she who slayed Mahishasura. I don't see the point of making a statue to the demon though but...it's India!...and it is why I have the pic ordered such that the dancer who is representing Shakti as she performs is placing her foot on the head of the demon! :)

I hope you enjoy the pictures and let me know if you have ever had similar type experiences.

Wishing for Blessings from the Divine Mother! Jai Durga Maa! And I leave you with a snip of Devani's dance as Maa Chinee back in 2006 during Me Eat Manicou?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ode to My Ancestors!- Happy Republic Day Trinidad and Tobago!

All photos in this blog by Meady's Musings Production copyright 2006 to 2008

Temple Views, Siewdass Sadhu Temple in the Sea, Waterloo, Trinidad

According to Hinduism as is practised in Trinidad and Tobago we are in the period know as Pitri Paksha (pronounced Paksh)which is during the period 15 Sep to 29 Sep this year. It's a time in Hinduism (as practised here and I guess in other parts of India where my ancestors came from like the UP region) where something called Shraddh is perfomed in honour of one's ancestors who have died. In my home today was the day that all my extended family got together at the home that was originally owned by my maternal grandparents to honour all our departed ancestors. The rituals are performed by the males of the family usually (hence one of the reasons for the unfortunate Hindu obsession with having a son?) and done by the family pundit or other available pundit. In keeping with the tradition a form of pooja is done honouring Vishnu and food is offered symbolically to the departed ancestors. It is believed that carrying out these rituals help the souls of the ancestors wherever they are even if they have reincarnated already. It is believed that doing these rituals help in some way to reduce their karmic debt. I guess it is like offering prayers to the Lord on their behalf when they may not be anymore in the flesh to do so or have reincarnated into a home where they are no longer capable of such prayers perhaps given their new situations. It is seen as the least one can do for their dearly departed ancestors when they would have taken care of the younger ones and done things for them and really in balancing the living descendants' karmic debt too cause aren't they for instance perhaps enjoying some form of inheritance left to them by the ancestors? Of haven't they been taught lessons from these departed souls etc?

Additionally in conducting such services one can be seen to be worshipping Krishna or Vishnu in the end as according to the Bhagvad Gita (Chapter 9 Verse 16)Krishna says to Arjun:

'But it is I who am the ritual, I the sacrifice, the offering to the ancestors, the healing herb, the transcendental chant. I am the butter and the fire and the offering.'

And in Chapter 9 Verse 17 he goes on to say:

'I am the father of the universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the symbol Om. I am the Rig, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas (pronounced Veds).

Ancient rituals aside...times like these make us reflect as a family on our roots and our ancestors. What have they done for us? What do we have to be grateful to them for? How far along the road have they taken us so that we no longer have to fight for things that they had to fight for? Sure some of us have bad ancestors too but I will choose only to reflect on the positive here.

I will reflect today on the fight my ancestors put up as pundits (one of them my maternal grandfather) and Hindus as a whole to maintain our religion when they came here to Trinidad in the 19th century as indentured labourers to work on the cane plantations. It was at the time a society where Hindu marriages were not recognized and as a result the children of such marriages were seen as 'bastards' and their birth certificates said so under the then British rule. I thank the Presbyterians who came then predominantly from Canada to teach my ancestors English and the secular laws and learnings. Yes, they were missionaries and many Hindus and Muslims back then became Christians as a result of their work but also many were educated and many remained Hindus and Muslims none the less.

I thank my ancestors who fought with the story of the Ramayan (a Hindu book about the hero of the story's fight for good over evil illustrated by his journey to free the heroine Sita from her captor Ravan) in their hearts to build schools and temples , and get Hindu marriages recognized as legal. And in particular today, I remember those who fought what I understand, was one of the tougher battles, to get Hindu cremation sites since it required getting land near to seafront and many other facilities put into place.

Later on a Sadhu know as Siewdass Sadhu had a dream to build a temple in the sea and he did not even own the land but he had this vision which he often discussed with my grandfather who was his family pundit. He wanted to build a temple in the sea as was told to him in his dream. And so this simple sadhu (a hindu holy man) would go daily out into the water and put bricks he carried in his wheel barrow. He had to fight battles to get the state owned land but he did indeed build this simple structure in the end. However it was being eaten away by the sea after his death and in early 1990s long after the death of the sadhu the government of a now independent and republic Trinidad and Tobago rebuilt the temple and it is now called the Siewdass Sadhu Temple in the Sea and is a national heritage site which boasts of nearby cremation facilities as well. The Sadhu's wife was still alive at the opening and my maternal grandfather Pundit Parasram perfomed the opening rites for the temple as he was the long time pundit of the family.

Statute of Siewdass Sadhu, Siewdass Sadhu Temple in the Sea, Waterloo, Trinidad

So on this day Wednesday 24 September 2008 during the period of Pitri Paksha and on the day my nation Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic I salute my immediate ancestors, past outstanding fellow Hindus of my nation and my nation as a whole for reaching to the point where a temple is now considered a national heritage site. How far we have come from a time when under the then British rule I, a Hindu child born out of a Hindu marriage would have been seen as a 'bastard'.

On a personal level I would also like to thank my maternal grandparents for perserving this tree in our family's yard that has been here for over 50 years. A peepal (in Sanskrit) tree which is also called the sacred fig or banyan tree or the bodhi tree (as it is the tree under which Buddha is said to have found enlightenment). Below I show a picture of it as it is in our yard and I leave your with this quote as I wish Trinidad and Tobago a happy 32nd republic day!

The Bhagvad Gita Chapter 10 Verse 26 Krishna says to Arjun:

'Of all the trees I am the Peepal tree (banyan),...'

Peepal Tree, Couva, Trinidad

Sunday, September 21, 2008

International Day of Peace

Today-Sunday 21 Sept 08 is International Peace Day I think as named by the UN several years ago. I believe back when I was in high school I used to hear about it and we used to have a special morning service for it. For Trinis reading this blog I went to St. Augustine Girls' High School(SAGHS)- Per Ardua Ad Astra in worship and in class and play! For those non-Trinis it is a seven year government assisted all girls Presbyterian school that is considered to be top tier like the top 5% of girls writing the national entrance exams get into it. You go to high school in Trinidad from age 11 to 18 or about. But yep I think in SAGHS we used to have special services to mark it...But really post my SAGHS days I've not heard much or done much in terms of International Peace Day. I know my current employer, the first permanent employer ever and also my current employer (I've been with them almost 10 years now!). Well, it (my current employer) is big on marking Earth Day so I always hear bout that but nope not Peace day. I've not thought but Peace Day since high school! Until this year and I've been bombarded with it! Funny being bombarded with Peace day initiatives! :)

But yep this year marks the first year Im on facebook for Peace Day as I joined in Oct 07 and I've since been involved with candle4tibet efforts and the same candle4tibet people- David Califa et al have joined forces with Gordon Millar and others to form iPeace of which I'm also a member. I dont mean to sound sarcastic cause I really respect all David Califa and others are doing and from all my interactions so far with David he seems like a lovely person! However I don't agree with all his methods and I really think there is no point in bombarding people to join a thing cause yea there is strength in numbers and I appreciate that we need numbers in democratic societies to make changes happen as normally you need x number of signatures on a petition say to get the powers that be to listen and enforce them. And most bodies ask to see the numbers and your ability to affect change is seen by the numbers you have follow you. But I find...what is the point of having a bunch of people if they were pushed into joining as oppose to having a smaller number who find true meaning in joining? My point is the quantity is great but the quality is what really matters. And also having a large number of people join a group is one thing but what happens next with the following is what is even more important. And also just as they say there is strength in numbers there is also as they say the power of one. So numbers doesn't always matter with causes do they?

That said I continue to be a member of iPeace and candle4tibet and I urge others who truly believe in these causes to join them on http://ipeace.ning.com and http://candle4tibet.ning.com

On a personal level this has therefore been a very different International Peace Day for me in many years as it is the first time since high school I've really even recognized it. I've been involved in the Peace Intention Experiment and did the final intention experiment with that group today around midday. This group's peace intention site is http://www.thepeaceintentionexperiment.com and they also have on going intention experiments that come off of their main site http://www.theintentionexperiment.com . It was done to try to bring about reduction in violence in Sri Lanka. To be honest don't know how much impact it is having as this week marked teh biggest increase in violence in Sri Lanka in a long time from what I heard on the BBC World Service Radio but I'm not judging the experiment and from what I read on their site several well known scientists are part of the experiment and I hope they will be able to look at the results and report on the findings to us soon. But it is a very interesting idea and concept no doubt and I hope in the future more can come of it. Also it was a pleasure to try this experiment out and a very moving experience for me. Especially interacting with all the other experimenters post experiment on http://theintentionexperiment.ning.com

In the interim with all these things being tried on the global level where we as individuals with the assistance of modern day technologies and social networking sites can now take part. There still remains the need for peace on the national level and the family level and most importantly within. So as the day is about to come to an end I would like to spend five minutes in quiet reflection on my own peace of mind and peace within and ask all my readers to do the same. And as I remember praying in my primary school(age 5 to 11)- Mc Bean Hindu School: Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti...Hari Om!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ganesh Chauth or Chaturthi Will Kick Off 10 Day Ganesh Utsav (Festival) Celebrations

Photo's copyright held by Meady's Musings Production 2008.

Today is Ganesh Chauth or Chaturthi I'm not going to go into any lengthy description of it as again the web is already buzzing with such information and a search for Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganesh Chauth will give you more than enough information. It will kick off a ten days of celebrations called Ganesh Utsav which will end on Sun 14 Sept 08. The festival of Ganesh is celebrated throughout the Hindu world and in particular in the state of Maharashtra in India where Ganesh is like the equivalent of the patron saint in Catholicism...he is the deity of that state...guess like Saint Patrick's Day with the Irish and those of Irish origin. As a result there are huge celebrations in Mumbai formerly known as Bombay which is in that state and home of the 'Bollywood' film industry. There, even though they are muslim, the family of Salim Khan noted script writer and father of famous heart throb and actor Salman Khan take part fully in the celebrations at their home. I don't know if maybe this has anything to do with Salim's success as a script writer but as a writer myself but of much lesser fame...I like to think of Ganesh as the primeval scribe as I've been told a story by my grandfather that Ganesh was the first writer as he was given the task to write down the Mahabharat(the longest epic tale ever in Hinduism). Only Ganesh was capable of such a task as only he had the intellect to be able to keep up with the narrator and to write it down...only he could hold the verses in his head and comprehend them and translate what was said into coherent text.

Indeed in Hinduism Ganesh is seen as being of high intellect and worshipped as a store house of knowledge and being pro learning and knowledge. Hence he is worshipped alongside Saraswati by those seeking success in learning. Apart from this Ganesh is seen as the remover of all obstacles and so usually worshipped at the start of all projects and so in Hinduism as practised in Trinidad he is worshipped at the start of all pooja (prayers). So he removes all obstacles that might be put in the path of the purohit (pundit) and devotee carrying out the pooja. I guess he with all his amazing knowledge and intellect is able to guide the devotee and purohit to find a connection with the divine or the spiritual plane. Hmmm...so maybe Ganesh would be a good helper in this exercise...this experiment in Universal Collective Prayer? Oh Great One please guide us in this exercise.

All of this talk of Ganesh also reminds me of the time when another incredible phenomenon in Universal Collective Prayer occurred and all over the Hindu world murtis of Ganesh were drinking milk. I myself had this experience in my own family prayer room and I find it especially amusing (being also from a science background) that Indian scientists had the audacity to simply explain this away as capillary action...amusing :) Oh come on as scientists do proper experimentation! How could capillary action be the explanation? I don't want my blog to ever be about arguments though...so I won't rough up those scientists and their theories on this forum...perhaps on my Meady's Musings blog one day I will take them to task. But for sure phenomenon like that is part of what experiments in Universal Collective Prayer should be all about.

So I ask all of you to take part in Universal Collective Prayer on this day of Ganesh Chauth and for the entire festival of Ganesh. I don't know much about the details but I understand that Buddhists and Jains also revere Ganesh (Ganapati) as a saint or enlightened being. And well look in Mumbai you even have some broad minded Muslims joining in the festivities as I mentioned earlier. The festival is celebrated fully in Trinidad in temples throughout the nation and you can also carry out fasting, prayers and full poojas in your home.

I'm attaching an image of a Ganesh murti after I had already worshipped it during my Satyanarayan pooja that I carried out on Sat 24 Aug 08 for as I said earlier Ganesh is normally worshipped at the start of most poojas in Trinidad. I'm attaching it for you to contemplate on the form and look for guidance or inspiration through meditation by focussing on it.

Ganesh's Blessings, Wisdom and Guidance to All Beings! Happy Ganesh Utsav! Or as they say in Maharashtra (in Marathi I assume)- Ganapati Bappa Moriya!

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